Work your garden—you'll end up with plenty of food; play and party—you'll end up with an empty plate. Committed and persistent work pays off; get-rich-quick schemes are ripoffs. (Pr. 28:19-20)
The writer of Proverbs warns against being lazy in our pursuits - whether they are the pursuits that will put food on the table, money in the bank, and clothes on our back; or the type that will provide spiritual insight and stability in our daily walk. Either way - we need to spend the appropriate amount of time and resources on each. We have a responsibility to apply ourselves well to the work we do. God uses how we approach life's work as a means of blessing us with his grace. He fills our pantries, just as much as he fills our spirits.
In the verse just prior to these, the writer tells us to walk straight - live well and we will be saved. Too many times we set out on our journey - to whatever end we have in mind, but then fall short of completing the "work" we have begun. It is all to easy to quit when things seem hard. It is quite another thing to persist in the face of difficulty. If we read what our wise counselor has recorded in this chapter, we will begin to get a glimpse of the extreme value of persisting.
Playing favorites is always a bad thing; you can do great harm in seemingly harmless ways. (Pr. 28:21)
Playing favorites - ever find yourself wondering if God is playing favorites because someone else has spiritual insight that dazzles you, they seem to sail through tragedy unabashed, or their life looks all put together despite what they have been through? If you are like the rest of us, the answer to that answer is "yes". We have an inborn tendency to believe that when others are blessed more than we seem to be (at least on the surface), that God "likes" them better. Silly us - God never plays favorites, because that would just be totally against his character. He is just in all senses of the word.
There is a warning to us about playing favorites, though. We just don't know what could happen to another if we do. It may not seem like much on the surface, but people internalize their perception of "favorites" being played. Then they walk through life with baggage that they just cannot rid themselves of because they always see someone else as getting more than they do. Before long, this affects all that they go through in life - it becomes the filter they look through, clouding all their perception of life's blessings.
If you think you know it all, you're a fool for sure; real survivors learn wisdom from others. (Pr. 28:26)
As we conclude this morning, I want to focus on this verse. Real survivors learn wisdom from others. Put that in context with the other verses we have explored in this chapter of Proverbs. Honest people are relaxed and confident, bold to the core. Where do we learn honesty - from God as our example and others that follow him. Where do we learn boldness - in times of challenge and from faith that God gives. A good reputation comes from time spent in God's Word and the prayers of a soul that has an attentive ear to what God reveals is assured of being heard. Where do we learn the truths contained in the Word - in our own times of discovery, but also in the times we share in study of that Word with others. Where do we learn to pray and listen intently to what God says - in times of need, and in times of fellowship. Sin cannot be dressed up. It must be dealt with. Where do we learn to deal with sin the way God wants us to deal with it - often it is in the company we keep. Examples of others who have overcome things similar to what we face stand as evidence that we too can overcome.
In closing today, let us consider the idea of pride. Pride keeps us from reaching out to others for advice, help, insight into a tough issue. Pride is a dangerous "blind spot" that we hide behind. It has deadly results. Our writer promises us that real survivors learn wisdom from others. When we don't see our "blind spots", we would do well to listen to those God has placed in our lives. They probably see them clearer than we ever would and may even be God's instruments to help us come out from behind them. Remember, God never plays favorites - he stands ready to grow each of us with exactly the same resources (his Word, is Spirit, and his people).